Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Beacon and Joy

There is an intersection amidst the rolling terrain of Boston where Beacon and Joy come together. The day I discovered this, I was elated.  I may have cried. It was an affirmation that, yes, a street---a normal, unremarkable street--can lead you to that elusive treasure: Joy.

It was something that, really, I had known for years.

I had known it since those first days of freshman year, when with fearlessness and a craving for adventure, I walked out my door and just kept going.  It so happened that Beacon was the street.  Those were our courting days.  

When she saw me she would preen. She would convince the sky to banish the clouds and darken to just the right shade of blue.  She would loose her magic on the trees and turn the leaves yellow and orange and red, and make me gasp in spite of its expectedness.  And when nature refused to conspire she would shine up her old deco buildings and make her hard New England people smile.  As I walked along her haphazardly cobbled streets, she drew me in and I was taken.  

And though through the years her beauty never wavered, it became familiar. It stopped being my reason for coming.  The reasons, they shifted.  Sometimes I came because she was there, and I didn't know what else to do.  Occasionally, I went utilitarian on her and came for her coffee shops and bookstores and restaurants. But mostly, I came because I knew her and she knew me, and there is safety in knowing.  There is freedom.  

And within the confines of her freedom, I grew up.  Reared, in so many secret ways, by a street.

Even now, I think of the hours I spent on those sidewalks as the critical hours of my life.  If all had to be wheedled down and concentrated into the essential decisions and beliefs that shape a person, the majority of mine were arrived at as I walked along Beacon.

Because, you see, God resides on Beacon Street. I am quite sure of it.  If you ever go walking there with me I can point out the building in which I am certain He lives.  And maybe that is the attraction.  Maybe that is why--after all of these years--I can't shake that street.  Perhaps the breezes that blew through my mind as I traipsed the hills of Boston were breathed from an open window of a flat on Beacon Street.  And maybe all of my wanderings were tracing that origin.

It is the places where we meet God that we can't shake.  If we know where He can be found, how can we not keep coming back?  Some people meet God at church.  Or at a friend's home.  Or in a hospital. I have met Him in all of these places.

But I met God--regularly--on a street.  Beacon Street.  And it changed everything about me.

So you can understand how, when years later, after winding my way from one end of Beacon Street all the way through the hills of Newton and Brookline and Boston and Beacon Hill, I looked up and saw that Joy intersects with Beacon, it was like I had always known.  

If God lives on Beacon Street, Joy has got to be close by.

And it is.

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